When we say the Russians were attempting to meddle in the 2016 election, know that they were hitting every possible angle.
And to be honest, as more and more is revealed, it appears that the goal wasn’t simply to get Trump elected, but to agitate tensions and disrupt the nation from the inside out. Trump was simply the chaos candidate to help them achieve that goal.
Another way Russians apparently have sought to rip away at the national fabric is by using social media to exacerbate racial tensions.
As social media giants, Twitter and Facebook, are working with investigators to identify and uncover accounts linked to Russian provocateurs, one such account with links to both Twitter and Facebook has been revealed, and was purposed just for whipping up continued racial angst.
The social media campaign was called “Blacktivist,” as a new CNN report reveals.
Both Blacktivist accounts, each of which used the handle Blacktivists, regularly shared content intended to stoke outrage. “Black people should wake up as soon as possible,” one post on the Twitter account read. “Black families are divided and destroyed by mass incarceration and death of black men,” another read. The accounts also posted videos of police violence against African Americans.
The Blacktivist accounts provide further evidence that Russian-linked social media accounts saw racial tensions as something to be exploited in order to achieve the broader Russian goal of dividing Americans and creating chaos in U.S. politics during a campaign in which race repeatedly became an issue.
Apparently, they were pretty successful, as far as grabbing the attention of their intended targets.
The Facebook account had more “likes” than even the Black Lives Matter page. Blacktivist had 360,000 likes when uncovered. BLM only has 301,000 now.
Besides working with investigators, Facebook and Twitter are working together, in order to find common accounts. That’s how the Blacktivist account was discovered (along with an additional 21 accounts in common, and another 179 accounts that linked back to those).
The Blactivist page would publicize rallies and events throughout the country in 2016, such as a march to commemorate the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, or the 50th anniversary of the Black Panthers. They would also publicize actual events from other organizations, in an attempt to up the attendance numbers.
“We are fed up with police violence, racism, intolerance and injustice that passed down from generation to generation. We are fed up with government ignorance and the system failing black people,” the page’s description of the march for Freddie Gray read.
That same Freddie Gray event was covered by RT, a television network funded by the Russian government.
Facebook has already turned over much of its findings to Congress, to aid in the investigation into Russian interference. To date, they’ve turned over findings on 470 Russia-linked accounts.
The Twitter account, @Blacktivists, provided several clues that in hindsight indicate it was not what it purported to be. In several tweets, it employed awkward phrasing that a native English speaker would be unlikely to use. It also consistently posted using an apostrophe facing the wrong way, i.e. “it`s” instead of “it’s.”
Was the profile image an egg?
All of the ads handed over by Facebook were linked to the Internet Research Agency, a shadowy company that U.S. military intelligence has described as “a state-funded organization that blogs and tweets on behalf of the Kremlin.” A senior Kremlin spokesman said last week that Russia did not buy ads on Facebook to influence the election.
Truly, exploiting racial tension in America is the lowest of low hanging fruit, especially after two terms of Barack Obama as president. The man was an active agitator of racial angst from the day he took office. He was the first indicator that all-too-large swaths of the American people are incapable of making reasonable and informed choices for leadership. For that reason, the American public is a soft target for PR savvy and hostile foreign players.
The Twitter account for Blacktivist was set up in April 2016, and it, along with its Facebook counterpart were active as recently as August of this year.